Controls on the petrographic evolution of an active margin sedimentary sequence: The Larsen Basin, Antarctica

Duncan Pirrie*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The sedimentary fill of the Cretaceous-Tertiary Larsen Basin, located at the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, records the evolution of the Antarctic Peninsula source terrain. Uplift, and the possible renewal of arc volcanism within this area, is documented by the wide petrographic spread in the lower Gustav Group (Barremian-Coniacian). The Hidden Lake Formation (Coniacian-Santonian) records a major pulse in proximal calc-alkaline arc volcanism. The overlying Marambio Group shows a change from lithic-volcanic sandstones to quartz-feldspar-rich sandstones, reflecting a change in source terrain. An abrupt change in sandstone composition in the upper Santa Marta Formation (Campanian) may reflect both a switch in volcanism and plutonism from the east to the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula (i.e. away from the basin margin), and a change to more mafic volcanism. The Lopez de Bertodano Formation (Campanian-Palaeocene) dominantly reflects a change to a quartzo-feldspathic source terrain (the Trinity Peninsula Group). This is also related to both a decrease in the intensity of arc volcanism and an increase in distance from the location of concurrent volcanism in relation to the site of deposition. Controls on petrography other than simple arc-unroofing (e.g. location and nature of arc volcanism and depositional setting) play an important role in sandstone petrography. These controls on sandstone composition should always be considered in interpreting sequences from active plate margin settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-249
Number of pages19
JournalGeological Society Special Publication
Publication statusPublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


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